JACKSON FREE PRESS: Proposed Budgets Slashed Even Without 42’s Passage

Herb_Fireson_Ik_web_t320It’s deja vu all over again.

State agencies are bracing for deep cuts in the face of dire economic forecasts. This time, the reductions are part of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s spending recommendation, which will provide a starting baseline for the budget blueprint lawmakers must approve later this spring.

The Legislative Budget Committee imposed more cuts in the fiscal year 2017 budget—which the upcoming Legislative session will finalize—than the current year’s budget, appropriating $37 million less than they did in fiscal-year 2016. The committee proposed a $5.67-billion general-fund budget Dec. 15 despite projections that state revenue will be 1.9 percent higher than last year. The proposal suggests that the proposed budget cuts eliminated the allocation of state general-fund dollars for one-time spending.

These cuts are even greater than those that Rep. Herb Frierson, a key Republican budget writer from Poplarville, warned would be necessary if the school-funding amendment Initiative 42 passed. Last fall, he threatened 7.8 percent across-the-board budget cuts if voters did not reject the citizen-driven effort to require state lawmakers to follow state law on funding public schools.

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